The advisor for Prime Minister on Health, Dr. Zafar Mirza, in his latest press conference presented Special Relief package for Medical and other frontline workers. There has been an ongoing debate and resentments among healthcare workers for ignorance of Federal government regarding their health, financial and security concerns.
In this regard, Federal Government has announced a detailed package for health workers while acknowledging the fact that no package can match up with the service they are providing to this country during this pandemic.
Firstly, Dr. Mirza announced that Frontline workers will be exempted from taxes this year. This waive off comes as result of health and financial crisis that health workers are going through. The government has prepared a Corona relief package of Rs. 3,000,000 to Rs. 10,000,000 for medical workers who are affected by COVID-19. Separate efforts will be made to acknowledge and remember contributions of health workers towards country.
The corona package for health workers is labelled as Shauhda package for medical workers who lose battle against COVID-19. Depending on ranks and conditions, health workers’ families will be entitled to package up to Rs. 1 crore.
Government also announced special security arrangements to be made in all hospitals across Pakistan in light of recent incidents of violence against the doctors in different cities of Pakistan.
The federal government has also initiated ‘The Care’ program, under which medical officers and doctors are being trained across the country to deal with the pandemic. The program currently includes over 100,000 medical workers who are trained for proper use of Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs) and around 20,000 doctors and workers are already being trained.
Another aspect is the psychological support provided to health workers for mental composure. The helpline of 1166 is now being expanded for front line health workers to discuss any personal issues or psychological issues with specialists.
Coronavirus in Pakistan has affected around 3% of health workers. The ratio is much higher for developed economies and government of Pakistan intends to keep it that way.
For COVID-19 test, Dr. Mirza stated that from now on, the healthcare workers will be given priority over other suspected patients to ensure priority to their health.
Another initiative by federal government is increasing Private health sector support to increase their contribution to public health in this pandemic. State bank of Pakistan is now providing refinancing facility for private hospitals with maximum interest rate of 3% or lower. Federal government is aiming at increasing facilities at both private and public health sectors to deal with the pandemic and increase facilities for both public and front line workers.